A rain barrel is a large outdoor container that collects and stores rainwater coming from your gutter through a downspout. Once captured, an attached spigot lets you drain the rainwater to water plants around your home or to use for outdoor chores. Just a ¼” of rainfall can fill a rain barrel. And, a typical 55-gallon rain barrel can easily water a 200 square foot garden!
Rain barrels benefit you in so many ways. They help you conserve water, especially during summer when lawn and garden watering makes up nearly 40% of total household water (source: EPA). Rain captured in rain barrels reduces stormwater runoff that can carry pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals through to nearby streams and ponds. This “soft” rainwater is free of minerals and other additives often found in tap water, making it ideal for gardens, flowerpots and car and window washing. And, of course, it saves you money on your water bills!
Rain barrels are easy to set up. A sturdy platform of cinder blocks or bricks is recommended for stability, as a full rain barrel can weigh about 400 pounds. This also elevates the barrel for dispensing the water through the spigot into your watering cans. Alternatively, a hose connection can be attached.
Rain barrels typically cost between $100 and $150 and are widely available in a variety of colors and styles from hardware and large home improvement stores.